When I converted to the Catholic Faith some 20+ years ago I was fortunate to have older priests who went to seminary prior to Vatican II and still understood that they had been imprinted with a special indelible mark on their souls and their hands were now consecrated for a distinct and divine purpose. Their fundamental characters had been changed and in one aspect were now even of a higher order than the angels in heaven; Priests forever in the line of Melchizedek. For they, and only they, could make Christ present on the altar.
From John Vennari:
Throughout the centuries, our fathers have told us about our Faith and about the Blessed Sacrament. Our fathers have told us that the Holy Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The Fathers of the Council of Trent defined the Blessed Sacrament with precision and care. Father Thomas Aquinas taught us that out of reverence toward this Sacrament, the touching and administrating of this Sacrament belong only to the priest. Our Catholic fathers at home, as well as our teaching sisters in school, told us that it was sacrilegious for anyone but the priest to touch the sacred host.
Throughout the centuries, the Popes, bishops and priests taught us this same thing, not so much by words, but by example — and especially by the celebration of the Old Latin Mass, where profound reverence for the Blessed Sacrament as the true Body of Christ was in every move the priest made. Our fathers told us these things not just for the sake of handing down a venerable but groundless tradition, they have told us these things through word and ex-ample to show fidelity to the Catholic Faith and reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament. Our fathers told us this because it was the truth.
But the introduction of Communion in the hand and lay ministers of the Eucharist shows an arrogant disregard for what our fathers taught us. And though these practices have been introduced under the guise of being an “authentic” liturgical development mandated by Vatican II, the truth is Communion in the hand is not an authentic liturgical development, was not mandated by the Second Vatican Council, and shows complete defiance and contempt for centuries of Catholic teaching and practice before us, thus resembling the philosophy of the New Paganism and the philosophy of revolution.”
Nowhere Mentioned in Vatican II
Communion in the hand is not mentioned in a single document of the Second Vatican Council, nor was it mentioned during any of the debates during the Council. In all sixteen documents of Vatican II, there is no mention of Communion in the hand.
The teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas, in his great Summa Theologica bears this out. He explains:
“The dispensing of Christ’s Body belongs to the priest for three reasons.
“First, because he consecrates in the person of Christ. But as Christ consecrated His Body at the (Last) Supper, so also He gave It to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration of Christ’s Body belongs to the priest, so likewise does the dispensing belong to him.
“Second, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people, hence as it belongs to him to offer the people’s gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver the consecrated gifts to the people.
“Third, because out of reverence for this Sacrament, nothing touches It but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands for touching this Sacrament. Hence, it is not lawful for anyone else to touch It, except from necessity, for instance, if It were to fall upon the ground or else in some other case of urgency.” (ST, III, Q.82, Art. 13)
Saint Thomas, who is the prince of theologians in the Catholic Church, who towers above all the rest, whose Summa Theologica was placed on the altar next to the Scriptures during the Council of Trent, and whose teaching Saint Pius X said was the remedy for Modernism … Saint Thomas clearly teaches that it belongs to the priest and only to the priest to touch and administer the Sacred Host, that “only that which is consecrated” (the hands of the priest) “should touch the Consecrated” (the Sacred Host).
And yes, there is the fact that for some time reception of the Eucharist in the hands was accepted by the Church and yet, as we grew in love and understanding of this Sacrament of Sacraments our traditions changed and for very valid reasons as was expressed above by the quote from St. Thomas in the 13th century.
As Michael Davies observes,
“Unless we are to believe that the Holy Ghost abandoned the Church for 1,000 years [the 1,000 year period from the time of the 10th Century, when Communion in the hand was forbidden], we must accept the fact that, under His guidance, a tradition evolved that only the consecrated hands of a priest could touch the Host; we have the witness of St. Thomas Aquinas that, by the 13th century, it was firmly established that not even a deacon could do so under normal circumstances.” (Privilege of the Ordained, p. 16)
Though it is a bit inconvenient, I am now skipping the lines that lead to extraordinary minsters and make sure that I find the correct line that leads to the priest; for it seems to me that if everyone did this we would rekindle the awe that we had for the priestly character of a priest and the special consecration of his hands. As long as extraordinary ministers are being employed and the parishioners are allowed to receive on the hands . . . who is ever going to believe that there is an indelible mark on a priests soul and that nothing which is not consecrated should touch the Holy of holies; the Blessed Sacrament?
It seems to me that as long as these two practices continue we will steadily see ourselves as persons of equal worth (and perhaps a “right” to do the priestly duties reserved for the priest alone. Our idea of the priesthood has declined and we are now more concerned with the world’s preoccupation with egalitarianism. It seems that we have taken it upon ourselves to run social engineering experiments which have already turned out to be very detrimental to the Church. Our loss of faith in the Real Presence is even a more dire consequence to this experimentation that has taken place post-Vatican II.
Two documents that everyone should read. The first was an insturction issued in 1997 and signed by most of the major Vatican Congregations:
In this document the following is Article 8 in its entirety.
The Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion
The non-ordained faithful already collaborate with the sacred ministers in diverse pastoral situations since “This wonderful gift of the Eucharist, which is the greatest gift of all, demands that such an important mystery should be increasingly better known and its saving power more fully shared”.(95)
Such liturgical service is a response to the objective needs of the faithful especially those of the sick and to those liturgical assemblies in which there are particularly large numbers of the faithful who wish to receive Holy Communion.
§ 1. The canonical discipline concerning extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must be correctly applied so as to avoid generating confusion. The same discipline establishes that the ordinary minister of Holy Communion is the Bishop, the Priest and the Deacon.(96) Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are those instituted as acolytes and the faithful so deputed in accordance with Canon 230, § 3.(97)
A non-ordained member of the faithful, in cases of true necessity, may be deputed by the diocesan bishop, using the appropriate form of blessing for these situation, to act as an extraordinary minister to distribute Holy Communion outside of liturgical celebrations ad actum vel ad tempus or for a more stable period. In exceptional cases or in unforeseen circumstances, the priest presiding at the liturgy may authorize such ad actum.(98)
§ 2. Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present or when those ordained ministers present at a liturgical celebration are truly unable to distribute Holy Communion.(99) They may also exercise this function at eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion. (100)
This function is supplementary and extraordinary (101) and must be exercised in accordance with the norm of law. It is thus useful for the diocesan bishop to issue particular norms concerning extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion which, in complete harmony with the universal law of the Church, should regulate the exercise of this function in his diocese. Such norms should provide, amongst other things, for matters such as the instruction in eucharistic doctrine of those chosen to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, the meaning of the service they provide, the rubrics to be observed, the reverence to be shown for such an august Sacrament and instruction concerning the discipline on admission to Holy Communion.
To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches:
— extraordinary ministers receiving Holy Communion apart from the other faithful as though concelebrants;
— association with the renewal of promises made by priests at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, as well as other categories of faithful who renew religious vows or receive a mandate as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion;
— the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of “a great number of the faithful”.
The Second Document that should be read was written by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.